In 4 steps to a sustainable conference

Your conference's success today hinges on meeting sustainability criteria as well. How can you ensure you make the right decisions when planning your event? By adhering to these four steps.
Legacy M
Your conference today is only a real success if you also meet the criterion of sustainability. Rightly so, because your association or PCO can also do its part to achieve the United Nations' sustainable development goals. Do you want to make sustainable choices when organizing your conference? Get inspired by the four tips in this article.

Step 1: think about sustainability from the start

It is important to keep the importance of sustainability in mind right from the start. After all, in the concept phase you can make many decisions that have a big impact. For example, is it really necessary to organize your conference entirely face-to-face? By working partly online or hybrid, you significantly reduce your ecological footprint. A nice bonus: you can increase your reach to other target groups at the same time.

Tip: VISITFLANDERS Convention Bureau developed its own hybrid platform, inspired by principles from gaming and social media. HYBR brings together the experiences of physical and virtual conference participants. Learn more about this platform here.

Step 2: choose a sustainable venue

Sustainable means: not too big and not too small, but precisely tailored for your conference. Also check whether the venue is equipped with all the infrastructure and technology you need. If everything is available on site, you can make serious savings on logistics transport - and thus on CO2 emissions.

Tip: Flanders has unique venues with great architectural value. Some of these "Flanders Heritage Venues" received the GreenKey certificate, which means that they significantly reduce the environmental impact of your conference. Click here to read more.

Horta Green Key

Step 3: provide sustainable transportation options

Your delegates obviously need to get to your conference. In doing so, try to limit the need to fly as much as possible, as nothing is more damaging to the environment than a plane trip. For travel within Europe, the train is an ideal alternative. There are numerous high-speed trains and night trains between the continent's major cities.

Tip: Are you organizing a conference in Flanders? Then you are eligible for support through the Impact Package. You can use this to pay for sustainable transport for your speakers and delegates, or get a discount at a Flanders Heritage Venue that puts sustainability first. Want to know more? Contact Gemmeke De Jongh of VISITFLANDERS Convention Bureau.

Step 4: Go for sustainable catering

Did you know that human food production is responsible for one-third of all greenhouse gases on earth? In addition, food derived from animals - such as beef - creates 10 to 50 times more CO2 than plant-based food.

Therefore, consider a sustainable catering alternative for your delegates. Also try to prevent food waste. At conferences and events, about 15 to 20 percent of all prepared food is simply thrown away. If you can avoid that loss, you're taking a big step.

Tip: choose seasonal and local products as much as possible. This requires less transportation. Because yep, transportation in turn makes up 10 percent of total human CO2 emissions.



Be proud of your sustainability

It's definitely a good idea to let your delegates know about your sustainable commitment. For example, tell them why you choose this sustainable venue or this seasonal dish. That way you create understanding and motivate delegates to do their own part. By taking the stairs instead of the elevator, for example, they are making a small gesture with positive consequences. Not only for the environment, but also for their own health.